Ok I lied, the lemmings are not coming but Zachariah Ohora is making an appearance at my school on Tuesday March 20th. He is the young hipster dad who also happens to be an author and an illustrator. My favorite book of his is The Not So Quiet Library and it’s not just because it has library in the title. He has done a few other fine books on his own and a few with several others. He is probably best known for his collaborations with that blue haired author Ame Dyckman. Together that have produced the soon to be classics Wolfie the Bunny and Horrible Bear. Their newest offering is the book called Read the Book Lemmings.
It turns out that the old well worn story about lemming swarming and jumping off cliffs is a myth. This myth was originally reinforced in most older folks minds from a popular wildlife film put out by Disney in the 50’s. Way back then some of Disney’s work with wild animals was staged. Instead of being in the arctic region they were elsewhere in southern Canada and were using the wrong species of lemming to film. The poor rodents were encouraged to jump off a cliff. Where is PETA when you need them? Here is the old Disney video if you need evidence.
The premise of the book is that the three lemmings in the story – Jumper, Me Too and Ditto – do not know that lemmings do not jump off cliffs. It appears they have not read the book about lemmings and this causes great frustration for the arctic fox and Captain PB. The lemmings keep on jumping and have to be rescued over and over.
The added intrigue with all this is that a good portion of my students did not know what a lemming was and were unfamiliar with the myth about lemmings jumping. So I took advantage of this to share my mostly indepth research about lemmings from two library books, online encyclopedias and databases. It turns out that lemmings can be fiesty creatures and don’t always run when threatened. There are also know for the speed at which they can reproduce. A moma lemming can have up to nine babies in about a month throughout most of the year. Oh my I am exhausted just thinking about that.
On another note I have been working with one of my amazing library volunteers to create a Read the Book Lemmings display. You can see the pictures below.